BT gets headstart in mobile Internet race

BT gets headstart in mobile Internet race
Alex Mayhew-Smith BT has said it plans to net one billion mobile phone customers in five years time, following its deal to link up with Microsoft to develop mobile Internet services. The development of mobile Internet services will help BT to meet its ambitious target, said a spokesman. The agreement with Microsoft is part of the current race to develop intelligent devices combining mobile phone technology with an e-mail and Internet capability. “Customers could, for example, access applications such as e-mail, personalised Web content and on-line information services using their digital mobile phone, pager handheld or laptop computers,” said BT. The deal gives BT exclusive rights to test the services but the technology will be available to all interested companies once the services become commercially available. “It will give us a headstart when the technology is open to everyone,” said the spokesman. The company has 13 million mobile customers worldwide. UK trials will begin in the spring and services are likely to be generally available from early next year. The services are to be developed and marketed by BT and Microsoft and offered by Concert, BT’s global communications arm. Several contenders have recently emerged for what is seen as the next big lucrative market for consumer electronics. Motorola recently teamed up with Cisco Systems, and has linked up with Nextel Communications in a separate programme. The US company has also taken a stake in Symbian, the consortium set-up to develop operating software for wireless communications devices. BT’s recent strong third quarter results saw pre-tax profits of ?858m, which was mainly due to growth in data traffic as a result of Internet usage, which accounts for about 15 per cent of local call minutes.


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